2 Apr 2015

Close eye on goat behaviour

11:58 am on 2 April 2015

A new dairy goat research hub in Hamilton will allow scientists a closer look at the animals' feeding and sleeping habits.

Dairy Goat Cooperative chief scientific officer Colin Prosser, chief executive Tony Giles and chair Campbell Storey with AgResearch partnership and programmes director Greg Murison at AgResearch's new dairy goat research facility at Ruakura.

From left, Colin Prosser, Tony Giles and Campbell Storey of Dairy Goat Cooperative with AgResearch's Greg Murison at the dairy goat research facility, Ruakura. Photo: SUPPLIED

The AgResearch facility in Ruakura will house 48 goats and be used for research trials on goat behaviour and animal welfare.

AgResearch senior scientist Warren King said the industry was still relatively small, with fewer than 80 farms supplying the Goat Dairy Cooperative. About $150 million worth of mainly infant formula milk powder was exported to Asia, and the industry was into other markets such as Russia and Europe.

Dr King said there was a greater focus on animal welfare and milk quality as the industry expands and moves towards indoor farming.

Using video cameras to observe goats at the research facility would offer substantial insights into on-farm practices.

"We want to know how much time they spend standing, how much they spend lying, whether there are issues with those surfaces being slippery for them, and we need to be doing that in an environment where they're not being distracted by people looking at them, so video footage is really the only way of doing that."

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